wit - white - [white in japanese and sanskrit]

work number:
executed: 1980
classification: printed matter
object/work type: artists' book
technique/material: 362 p. white paper (21.0 × 14.8 cm) in white cover; on a broad white strip (banderole) author, title and impressum are printed, on the first flap a text by herman de vries in Dutch, English and German: "about this universal book, which neutralizes all contradictions / whose content is intelligible to everyone / which resolves all problems and isolates nothing / of realityden of any aspect / remains to be said, that it represents / a positive contribution to the synthesis of all"
dimensions: 21.0 × 14.8 cm
signature and inscriptions: [uninscribed]
edition: 3rd edition, 5000 copies [100 realised], numbered
published by artists press : Bern 1980
current location:
collecting history:
related works:
The story of this book dates back to 1960. Closely associated with the Zero Group, but also drawn to the buddhist concept of emptiness, herman de vries had just produced a series of white monochromes when he self-published a twenty-page booklet in Arnhem. It had no title, its cover was blank and its pages were unprinted. It contained nothing but a short final poem celebrating, in four languages, the superabundance of white: wit is overdaad. In 1962, this manifesto appeared in another version, now entitled wit: two hundred blank pages, four white collages by the artist and an introduction, itself completely blank, by the poet J.C. van Schagen, published in Arnhem in only five copies by M.J. Israel. It was followed in 1967 by a second 'revised' edition, wit weiss: two hundred and fifty blank pages, pocket-sized, in five hundred copies, published by Hansjörg Mayer in Stuttgart. The only printed elements were the artist's name, the title and the publisher's name on the cover, the word 'introduction' and the name of its author on the very first page and a colophon on the final page. In 1980 the Artists Press in Bern published the 'third revised edition', in a larger format and with more pages. The original title wit was translated into english and japanese and into sanskrit with a word that means 'white' in the sense of bright, pure, immaculate. The title itself does not appear on the book, which remains completely blank. It is printed with the paratext on a broad strip of paper in the form of a detachable publicity strip. The inside flap contains a brief statement initially dating back to the 1962 edition, stating that this book incorporates all aspects of reality. Of the five thousand copies advertised, only a hundred were published.
rights & reproduction: herman de vries
published references
catalogue raisonné herman de vries. les livres et les publications : catalogue raisonné (centre des livres d'artistes : Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche 2005) image repr. on page 161, 160 (cat. number 54).